New Jersey has no crime called “rape,” instead opting to name the crime “sexual assault.” While some might look at the name “sexual assault” and think it includes less serious offenses, like groping or inappropriately touching someone, be assured that sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault are both very serious rape crimes. Not only are these crimes classified among the two highest levels of crime in New Jersey, they also carry the potential of decades in prison, hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, and registration as a sex offender under Megan’s Law.
For help with your charges, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today. Our Haddonfield, New Jersey rape defense lawyers represent those accused of rape and other sexual offenses throughout South Jersey. Our lawyers offer free, confidential consultations to help you understand your charges, and your options to fight them. For your free consultation, call (609) 616-4956 today.
Rape and Sexual Assault in Haddonfield
New Jersey’s rape statute is N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2. This statute creates two different levels of rape offense, known as “simple sexual assault” and “aggravated sexual assault.” The lower level, simple sexual assault, is a second degree crime. First, this crime covers any sexual touching of someone under the age of 13, even if there is no sexual penetration. Alternatively, it also covers sexual penetration committed under one of the following circumstances:
The actor used physical force or coercion, but did not cause severe injuries;
The victim is on probation, on parole, in prison, institutionalized, or otherwise detained, and the actor has authority over that victim;
The victim is between 16 and 18 years old, but the actor is related to the victim, has supervisory or disciplinary power over the victim, or is the victim’s parent or guardian; or
The victim is 13-16 years old.
In some crimes, the act of penetration occurs under more severe, violent, or inappropriate circumstances. Many of these are criminalized to a higher degree under the crime of aggravated sexual assault. This crime covers rape that occurs when:
The victim is under 13 years old;
The victim is between 13 and 16 years old and the actor is the victim’s relative, has supervisory or disciplinary power over the victim, or is the victim’s parent or guardian;
The rape occurs during another crime or attempted crime (specifically robbery, kidnapping, homicide, aggravated assault, burglary, arson, or criminal escape);
The actor is armed (or uses an object to make the victim think he is armed);
The actor uses force or coercion, with the help of another individual;
The actor uses physical force or coercion that causes severe personal injury; or
The actor knows (or should know) the victim is physical or mentally helpless or incapacitated, does not understand the sex act, or is unable to give consent.
This last element includes situations where the victim is unconscious, drugged, suffers from mental illness, or is otherwise legally incapable of giving consent. Any form of rape, under New Jersey law, must have some element of coercion, force, violence, pressure from an authority figure, or inability to consent. Sexual assault in New Jersey does not cover sex that simply lacked affirmative consent, though this may qualify for other crimes.
Penalties for Rape in South Jersey
Under New Jersey law, both sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault carry substantial penalties. First, there is the risk that you may have to register as a sex offender. A conviction for sexual assault (simple or aggravated) could trigger Megan’s Law’s requirements for sex offender registration. This registration could follow you around for decades – much longer than the prison sentence for the offense. This could affect your reputation, your ability to work with children, your choices of where to live, and your ability to find a job. Always talk to an attorney if the possibility of sex offender registration is on the line.
In addition, your freedom – and savings – could take a severe hit if you commit a rape crime in New Jersey. Sexual assault is a second degree crime in New Jersey – the second highest level of offense, alongside many severe drug, theft, and violent crimes. This carries a potential of 5-10 years in prison and up to $150,000 in fines. Aggravated sexual assault is elevated to a first degree crime, alongside murder. This carries a potential of 10-20 years in prison and fines up to $200,000.
South Jersey Rape Defense Attorney
Do not face rape and sexual assault charges on your own. If you were accused of rape in Haddonfield, NJ, talk to an experienced South Jersey defense attorney about your case. Our lawyers understand the effects these kinds of accusations can have on your reputation, even if you are not convicted. We offer discreet representation and free consultations with our lawyers. Call our law offices today at (609) 616-4956 for your free, confidential consultation.